Posts Tagged Fisheries Investment and Regulatory Relief Act

Mar 14 2012

Senators Scott Brown and John Kerry lead bipartisan effort to boost domestic fishing industry

Protesters gather at the United We Fish rally on Feb. 24, 2010 in Washington (AP Photo/Luis M. Alvarez)

 By Robert Rizzuto, The Republican

In what is being hailed as a bipartisan effort to right a decades-old wrong, U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., have joined with colleagues to push a bill that is expected to give the fishing industry in the U.S. a solid push into the future.

The Fisheries Investment and Regulatory Relief Act, or FIRRA as it’s known, would ensure that a significant portion of the money collected from tariffs on imported fish or fish products is cycled back into the American fishing industry, in accordance with the 1954 Saltonstall-Kennedy Act.

The 1954 legislation, sponsored by Democratic Sen. John F. Kennedy and Republican Sen. Leverett Saltonstall, both of Massachusetts, called for 30 percent of tariffs on imported fish to be used for research and development of the domestic fishing industry. But as imports have climbed along with revenue, Congress has typically allocated a majority of the money to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which has came under fire for questionable spending in the past.

In February, Brown blasted NOAA after an Inspector General report revealed that the agency had spent more than $300,000 in fines collected from U.S. fisherman to purchase a luxury boat which was used by agency members for recreation on the ocean with family, friends and alcohol.

A summary of the new legislation provided by Kerry’s office stated that in 2010, the government collected $376.6 million in tariffs on imported fish and fish products, which should have set aside $113 million for fishery research and development. In the end, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration received $104.6 million, with just $8.4 million going to fishery development.

Read the full article on


Mar 10 2012

Senate bill seeks millions to improve fishery science and stock assessments

Written by By Don Cuddy 

Sens. John Kerry, D-Mass., and Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, will introduce a bill today designed to provide millions of dollars in federal funds to help the commercial fishing industry.

The Fisheries Investment and Regulatory Relief Act could funnel more than $100 million annually into improving scientific research and fish stock assessments nationwide.

The money would come from an existing source: the customs duties raised from fish products imported to the U.S. Legislation passed in 1954, known as the Kennedy-Saltonstall Act, directs that 30 percent of all duty paid on fish imports be transferred to the Secretary of Commerce and set aside for fisheries research and other projects.

In practice, that has not been happening, according to Kerry’s office, which said that duties collected on imported fish products in 2010 totaled $376.6 million. Of that amount, $113 million went to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But only $8.4 million was used for fisheries research and development. The remaining $104.6 million was swallowed by NOAA’s operational budget.

The New England fishing industry has repeatedly criticized NOAA and the National Marine Fisheries Service for basing management decisions on incomplete or outdated data, with the recent dire assessment of cod stocks in the Gulf of Maine provoking the latest controversy.

A rosy stock assessment in 2008 was followed this year by a declaration that the stock has collapsed, threatening many fishermen’s survival.

“We can’t fix our fishing problems if we don’t restore trust and you start rebuilding trust by investing in fishing science that’s credible and comprehensive and comes from the fishing community itself,” Kerry said in an email to The Standard-Times.

The bill proposes to restore the original intent of Saltonstall-Kennedy; using the money in coordination with regional fishery management councils to allow local stakeholders a voice in how funds are directed.

Read the rest on South Coast Today.